Church Planting

How to Choose an Effective Initial Discipleship Plan

Systems manager. That doesn’t sound like a very exciting title! Are systems restrictive and boring? Do they take away our freedom? Or do they actually set us free? When it comes to Disciple Making Movements, using simple systems is extremely freeing. They help the movement reproduce naturally and easily. A DMM practitioner is in some ways a systems manager. One of the first simple systems you need in place is a Short Term (Initial) Discipleship Plan.

As soon as people begin to believe, establish a reproducible plan for training new believers. The lessons must be simple enough that anyone can teach them. The new disciples must quickly be able to use the same system with those they lead to faith. This reproducibility is key in multiplying a movement. read more

How to Know Someone is Not a Person of Peace – Disciple Making Movements

not a person of peace

Salaam Alaikum,” said the Muslim man who greeted me. I replied with the traditional response, “Wa-Alaikum-Salaam.” The phrase means “Peace be upon you.” My response meant “And upon you as well.” The Jews use a similar phrase of salutation. It is the word “shalom.” Blessing those you greet with peace is a well-known tradition in Middle Eastern cultures. Is this what Jesus referred to when He spoke to His disciples about the Person of Peace in Luke 10?

“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.” read more

How to Do A Start-Stop Exercise: Gain Victory Over Your Busy Life

start-stop exercise

Have you ever made a “To-Do” list and found it far too long? No one could possibly do all those things in the time available? Or maybe you don’t make lists, but experience a sense of inner pressure. You have too much to do. Disappointing people around you by not completing tasks on time, frustration is growing. You are disturbed that in spite of all the busy activities, you’re not seeing much progress. Not in the things that matter most to you – multiplying disciples among the unreached. Doing a Start-Stop exercise will help you get focused. read more

Need a Great List of the Most Vital DMM Startup Tools?

DMM Tools

Rice, meat, spices, herbs, onion, garlic…you make your list and go to the market. Before making a special meal, you first prepare the ingredients you need. You wouldn’t want to start cooking and then have to stop and run to the store. In the same way, as you begin your journey with Disciple Making Movements (DMMs), it is good to get your tools, training, and material in place. This will give you a better chance of moving forward in your DMM journey.

Invest in Your DMM Toolbox

There are many different tools you can add to your “toolbox” as you make disciples. But there are several things that are most essential. Get those basics in place. Then, as a builder or carpenter does, when you come across various new materials and skills, you can also add them to your DMM tool belt. read more

How Not to Motivate Your Team (and 4 Ways that Work)

team

Working in a united team with a high level of commitment and diverse gifts is an amazing experience! As the Bible says, “One man can chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight…” (Deut. 32:30-NIV.) This is only true when your team is united around the same vision and moving in the same direction. How do you get your team, or church, on board with the idea of launching a Disciple Making Movement (DMM)?

Much vision casting is necessary during the beginning phase. It carries on throughout the movement launching process. Learn how to do this well from the start. A deep commitment to multiplication will become an integral part of the movements’ DNA. read more

How to Develop a DMM End Vision Statement

End vision

Many people get excited about the idea of Disciple Making Movements (DMMs). Few see them happen in their ministry and locations. This is not because they are impossible. It is not because they are not on God’s heart to release. Why don’t they happen more often? One reason is that people don’t take time to develop a clear vision from the beginning.

You Need Clarity

An End Vision statement gives you (and your team) necessary focus for prayer and disciple-making.

Do you ever get distracted? Do you end up wasting hours on something that is not really that important to you? I do! Just the other day I spent hours tweaking a small video I was creating. Big waste of time. read more

10 Important Things To Do In Pursuing A DMM

start a DMM

“Is there a clear pathway to follow in starting to pursue DMMs?” one of my readers asked. It is a hard question to answer. There are no magic formulas! I would hate to give the impression that if you follow these steps, Voila! You will end up with a multiplying movement and thousands of disciples of Jesus. That is simply not true.

DMMs are a move of God among a population segment or people group. They don’t happen by just following a few steps, or by applying a particular strategy or formula. read more

Want Groups to Multiply? Stay Simple & Consistent

groups multiply

Imagine someone running in a baton race carrying a large, heavy piece of wood. It would be hard to pass on to the next runner, right? One person may be large and strong and able to run with it. But the next runner may not. Discipleship groups are very similar to this.

 

The baton used in a race is lightweight. It is designed to be easily transferred from the hands of one runner to another.

 

It is the same in a Disciple Making Movement. Discipleship methods must be simple and light. In DMMs, we are intentional about making everything we do easy for others to also do.

Reproducible Discipleship

Keeping your discipleship structure and meeting format consistent lends toward multiplication. While it is fun and interesting to do things with a lot of variety, it often doesn’t reproduce well.

 

Random discipleship doesn’t reproduce. Follow a simple plan. This is much more effective in rapidly equipping new disciple-makers.

 
A Coaching Conversation

 

What did you talk about in your Discovery Bible Study (DBS) today?” I asked.

We chose one of my favorite passages,” he said.

That is a good one! I like it too,” was my reply after hearing the Bible reference.

I’m curious. How do you decide which scripture to study each week?” was my next question.

We pray and find something that we think will be good,” he said.

Hmm,” I pondered, considering his situation.

 

This DMM effort had been struggling to see multiplication. They were doing regular Discovery Bible Studies. But the group members seemed hesitant to start their own groups. They lacked confidence and self-initiative.

 

Have you ever considered using an established set of stories? Or a list of verses everyone leading DBS groups follows? Instead of choosing verses randomly?” I asked.

 

This was a new idea to him.

We talked about how to go about deciding on a short and read more

Why and How to Track Progress in a Disciple Making Movement

track progress

Why track DMM progress?  Let me illustrate.

I come from a city in America called Minneapolis. It has many beautiful lakes. We like to rent canoes and go boating on them. I learned something about canoeing. Keeping my eyes fixed on the other side of the lake matters. Otherwise, it is easy to paddle around on the lake for hours without actually crossing it.

Some people engage in disciple-making efforts without tracking their progress. They are a bit like me on the lake.  They take their eyes off their goal.

That is fine if you just want a fun way to spend a day off. But if you are serious about making progress in starting a DMM, you have to measure forward movement.

You need to know where you are at. You must be able to determine whether or not the movement is multiplying.

Multiplication is your destination.  Stay focused on it. The only way to know if you are getting there (or not) is to keep careful records and regularly measure progress. Are you seeing multiplication growth or only addition? Tracking allows you to celebrate, assess, and make needed changes.

“How do I do this well?” you may ask. Few people like to fill out monthly reports! Especially volunteers and unpaid workers like we have in house church movements.

Indicators, Charts, and Evaluation

  • First, identify which DMM indicators you want to track.
  • Then, create a simple way of monitoring those things. Many people use generation charts or maps to help them do this. Particularly with oral culture people, a visual picture is very helpful. Compare previous charts with current ones. This makes it easy for trainees to see their progress (or lack of it).
  • Lastly, evaluate. Diagnose problems and make plans in response to what you have learned through the reporting process.

Big Reports- Pride and Exaggeration

In an email from a mentor, I read the following words.

“Big reports are driven by one of two reasons; Ego/pride, or the desire to influence funders and donors.  The first is always sin and the second can become sin when it leads to exaggeration, claiming other’s fruit and dishonesty.”

Wise words of caution when we talk about reporting.  If your goal in tracking movement progress is either of these things, take note. Carefully guard your heart.

Building Trust

There is often resistance to gathering data. I used to get frustrated with this. Wanting to understand their reasons, I asked further questions.

The reasons eventually surfaced. They didn’t want to give me their numbers if I was going to use them to raise funds for myself.  I could understand that! They didn’t want to be used for my gain. Others feared being viewed as a failure if they didn’t have big “numbers” to report.

Building trust took time. We needed to go through a process of helping our trainees understand. The reason we were gathering reports was to help the movements grow. It was not to build our own egos or to raise funds. We certainly didn’t want to make them feel like a failure!  The reports were to help them.

A few others had concerns about whether it was Biblical to track numbers. They were concerned about God’s judgment on David when he wanted to count his army. If that is a concern for you, please see this blog I wrote on that years ago.

“Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.” 1 Cor. 9:26 NIV.

How To Track Progress in a DMM

1. Identify which DMM indicators you want to measure.

There are many different things you can track as it relates to a movement’s growth. Keep it simple. Make a list of things you want to know, then cut it down to the absolute essentials. The shorter the report, the more likely they will complete it.

At the bottom of this post a free pdf download  with a list of indicators you could consider choosing from.  It’s not complete but will get you started.

2. Devise a simple way of monitoring that works for your group.

Many people use generation charts to track progress. When we began doing that with our teams, we saw a huge difference. Each training we had, the trainees made updated charts.

A circle represented a house church or disciple-making group. Looking at the chart you could easily see which generation it was (1st, 2nd or 3rd). You could also quickly see which groups were multiplying and which were not.

Then, as a coach/trainer you ask questions like this. “This group seems to be starting other groups. What is happening here that isn’t happening in your other groups?”

See my video that explains how to make a generational growth chart.

 

3. Determine how often and where you will collect reports and track progress. read more

How to Turn the Problem of Migrant Workers into an Opportunity

migrant

“How is your new disciple doing?” I asked. “Last week you said *Ram Bahadur took a step to follow Jesus and was baptized. That was so great to hear!”  With disappointment, *Ashok told me this new person had moved away. He had found work in another area. It was unclear, but he would likely not return for a year or so.

It can be difficult to make disciples who make disciples when the people you are focused on are constantly moving. Whether they are seeking work or moving for other reasons!

For the past several months I have been writing about key barriers to launching a Disciple Making Movement (DMM). See the full list here. Trying to make disciple-makers among a nomadic people group can feel impossible. It can seem like a major blockade to the movement’s growth.

Obstacle Or Catalyst?

This doesn’t need to be a barrier, however, to starting a DMM. It can instead become a major cause of movement expansion.

The key is to disciple the new believers rapidly using simple, reproducible approaches. Then, teach them to train others and start groups wherever they go. This was the model that led to much growth in the New Testament.

“On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.” Acts 8:1 NIV

Scripture Guides Us

Always look to scripture for foundational answers to the DMM problems you encounter. This problem of believers scattering was very present in the book of Acts!

The cause of the believers constantly moving was persecution, not searching for work. There are great parallels to learn from, however.

We read in the eighth chapter of the book of Acts how persecution caused many of the believers to move away from Jerusalem. The growing church was still in its early stages of development. Many had not received much training yet. Most had only been following Jesus for less than a year.

Interestingly, it says in Acts 8:4, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.”

How was it possible that they were equipped enough (in such a short amount of time) to preach the gospel effectively? They were able to start new groups (churches) in so many new locations as they scattered!

How Scattering Believers Became Church Planters

1) They powerfully received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4, Acts 8:15).

This is an important reason. Those who came to faith received the power of the Holy Spirit and developed a relationship with Him. They used their spiritual gifts and learned to listen to the Spirit’s voice. When no mentor was present, the Holy Spirit was there to correct, guide and instruct them.

The apostles trusted the Holy Spirit in the new disciples’ lives. They encouraged them to obey His leading. That doesn’t mean they never brought correction or instruction to them. They did! But their default mode was the empowerment of local believers, not control and restriction.

Be sure to pray for new believers to receive the Holy Spirit.

2) They met daily for fellowship and discipleship (Acts 2:46).

Daily discipleship of new believers is key to developing them into disciple-makers. In the short-term discipleship phase, much contact is necessary. They are still new babes in Christ.

Meet as often as possible with those coming to faith. This is especially needed the first few weeks after they believe.

Training them quickly in the basics of what it means to follow Jesus will bear much fruit. Make sure they are encouraged to immediately begin sharing their testimony with others.

Using the T4T “Baby Lessons” can be a good way to do this. Train them until they can train others. Then if they disperse, they will pass on what they have learned from you.

3) They learned the stories of Jesus well enough to reproduce them (Acts 2:42).

It takes many years to train a new disciple to the point where they can preach an expository sermon. Do you still think hearing a weekly sermon is what it means to be a church? I hope not!

If that is what you need, new believers on the move will probably not end up being church planters!

Instead, using a storytelling or Discovery Bible Study (DBS) approach works much better. As we practice and repeat the stories of scripture, it becomes natural to tell them to others.

In the book of Acts, when the believers gathered, the apostles told stories of Jesus’ life. They were first-hand witnesses. They shared about His miracles, His parables, and what it was like to be with Him. Then, those stories were passed on to others following an oral tradition. We can do the same today!

4) Though there was a council of elders, they practiced the priesthood of all believers (1 Pet. 2:9).

The New Testament church was not without leadership. But the structure was different from what is typical in churches today. There was no part of the Great Commission that the leaders reserved only for themselves.

Jesus’ gave some basic commands. He told us to make disciples of all nations, to baptize them, practice the Lord’s Supper often, give to those in need, love God and our neighbor, etc.

In the New Testament church, these were the responsibility of every Jesus follower. They were not only for the apostles or leaders.  Spiritual hierarchy and the professional clergy came much later. This slowed the growth of the church.

As you train disciples immediately empower them to be disciple-makers. Help them to start new groups themselves rather than just adding to existing groups.  Then, when they have to move for work, they will naturally do this in the new places where they go. Your movement will expand into regions you never dreamed of reaching.

5) Churches mostly met in homes (Acts 16:40, Acts 2:46, Acts 21:8,16).

In the New Testament church, they didn’t suffer from the same misconception of what the church was. They knew the church was people, not a building.

As you disciple new believers, be sure to instill this New Testament understanding in them.

6) The apostles visited and wrote to them (Acts 8:14, Rom. 15:23,28).

New Jesus followers, empowered by the Holy Spirit, did share the gospel and start new churches. But they were not without input and care.

The apostles visited them as often as they were able to. They sent letters to encourage (as well as correct them) in areas of church practice and doctrine.

When people you’ve led to faith scatter, stay in touch with them. Call, message and visit them. As they lead others to Christ, do what you can to help them stay on track.

Today we have the ease of text messaging, phone calls and many means of ongoing discipleship. Consider those moving to new places church planters rather than as people who have left your church. Keep investing. The result might be multiplication rather than a loss for the movement.

Multiplication Through Migration? read more